Spotlight: Philip & Phoebe by Anne Brandt01:00
About the Book
What older child hasn’t felt left out when a new baby arrives? Philip certainly does. His new sister
Phoebe can barely say “ga-ga” yet everyone goes ga-ga over her. Philip, despite his superhero cape, feels alone. Finally, he devises a plan. Using a bit of magic and a lot of determination, he sneaks into her bedroom at night with the intention of changing her into something more manageable, more exciting, more fun. Except things don’t go exactly as planned. Explore the world of Philip & Phoebe , a new children’s picture book by Anne Brandt with unique illustrations by Annie Poon. Set in a boldly visual world that’s cleverly colored in only black, white and red, each page has tiny treasures to discover. From playful animals that appear page after page – secretly helping the story – to unexpected talismans of luck, from horseshoes and hearts and shining
stars to wish upon. Inside the book’s inner lining is a seek-and-find game, inviting children to take a
second look and uncover its hidden gems.
discovered, at the bottom of a cardboard box, a short story she had written over forty years ago, one
that reminded her of the pleasure of gentle reads and the power of creativity and family, all tenets
important to Spectacled Bear Publishing. We knew this work would resonate with others and are
pleased to bring it to life. Essentially, Philip & Phoebe is a children’s book forty years in the making.
Q&A with Philip & Phoebe Author, Anne Brandt
forty years ago. Here’s the story of how those scraps of paper became Spectacled Bear’s very first title, Philip & Phoebe , a unique story of sibling rivalry, family and magic.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I had time on my hands. Back in 1974 I had two small children, lived in the suburbs and was a
stay-at-home mom. I needed a creative outlook and began writing this story. When I look back at those days, life seemed much simpler. I can’t imagine having time on my hands, nor can anyone I know. I hope that bringing this story – and others I’ve written since – to today’s audience will be an
entertaining reminder of the magic of pairing imagination with the everyday.
How did you come up with the concept of the book?
The idea for the book came from watching my children relate to each other when they were very, very young, further proving that we are always learning something from our kids.
Whas it been like for you to publish this book?
It has been a true work of love. I wrote the story over forty years ago and am thrilled that it’s finally
being shared with others.
The illustrations are so cute, can you tell us about the illustrator?
Annie Poon illustrated the book. She has a BFA in drawing and painting from Manhattan’s School of
Visual Arts, and her animation “Runaway Bathtub” is among the MoMA’s collections. We agreed to
set the story in a boldly visual world that’s cleverly colored in only black, white and red. Inside the
book’s inner lining is a seek-and-find game, inviting children to take a second look and uncover its
What part of being an independent author do you find most challenging?
To commit to publishing one’s own work and the work of others requires a commitment to the
project. You have to believe in what you’re writing and be able to “sell” it to others. It also costs money to do it correctly. I handle this by telling myself that the writings I’ve had published in the past have met a positive reception, and that if I don’t do this now it won’t ever get done.
What books have influenced your life the most?
Historical fiction has taught me things I didn’t know; poetry has enriched my emotions; and quirky
fiction and non-fiction have both made me think in different ways. A. E. Housman, Ann Patchett,
Richard Russo come to mind.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and take it to heart. Believe in yourself and your
writing, and never be satisfied with a first draft. Or a second.
Is there a message in Philip & Phoebe that you want young readers to grasp?
Mostly I hope readers enjoy the fun of the story and the artwork. If they walk away with more - think
of their siblings in a slightly different way or depart excited to use imagination to create magic - then
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Wind Sprints by essayist Joseph Epstein. Each selection in the book is 1000 words more or less; each is funny and clever. And I wrote a blog on my own site titled “ Emulating Epstein .”
Are you more of a Philip or a Phoebe?
I’m definitely a Philip. I make stuff happen.
Anne Brandt has been in love with creative writing since second grade when her four-line poem about cats appeared in a school journal. Today her writing includes personal essays, short stories, andnovellas. Philip & Phoebe is her first published children’s book. On the surface, the story appears to
present a simple tale of sibling rivalry, yet a closer look reveals Philip & Phoebe is truly a tale of magic. The way this story came to find publication is also one of magic. While Anne Brandt spent twenty-five years as a ghostwriter for clients in the corporate and nonprofit worlds, she worked nights in the basement of her home writing essays, stories and poems.
Over time her personal work began to appear in a variety of publications. Her essay about meeting her biological father for the first time after 45 years was a cover story for the Chicago Tribune Magazine . Her essay about getting a tattoo in honor of her fiftieth birthday appeared in Seniors magazine. Other work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times , The Daily Herald , and the Denver Post . A collection of her most popular essays was published under the title The Square Root of Someone. But Philip & Phoebe , a long-forgotten story she wrote inspired by her own children, lay at the bottom of a cardboard box.
Anne’s current work has been anthologized in Write Michigan , performed on stage in St. Joseph, MI,
and won awards online in a flash fiction contest. Her reorganizing of archives led to the rediscovery of this tiny tale, one that reminded her of the pleasure of gentle reads and the power of creativity and
wish-making. She knew this work would resonate with others and is pleased to bring it to life.
Essentially, Philip & Phoebe is a children’s book forty years in the making.
Currently Anne makes her home in Benton Harbor, Michigan. When she’s not on her computer, she
takes piano lessons, swims, and mall walks. For more info visit annebrandt.com .
About Spectacled Bear Publishing
gentle view of the world in such genres as children’s literature, poetry, novellas, and non-fiction.
While the company was being named, a search of the words revealed there is a real-live spectacled bear in the animal world. Found in South America, the actual spectacled bear is in danger of losing its
environment and is on the vulnerable list. Armed with this information, Spectacled Bear Publishing’s
motto became: “Saving gentle reads from extinction.” For more information, visit spectacledbear.com